Do sports create too much emotional baggage?

Natalie Connors, Editor in Chief

The Super Bowl is the single most watched television program today. More Americans collectively tune into their tubes on that Sunday than any other day of the year. It’s a day of celebrating what Americans love: football, commercials, and nacho cheese. The Patriots recently upset the Seahawks’s high hopes of championship, and grief was great for the twelfth man.

As tears soaked the napkins already stained with Buffalo sauce, bets were collected, marriages ended and people prepared themselves for another eight months of life without football. But what else gets left behind at the end of the playoff season? Is the emotional baggage of the football season worth it?

The emotional investment people give to sports they don’t themselves play continues to astound me.  The time and energy it must require to get so angry with “your team” has to be exhausting.  Yet, every game lost is treated like the greatest injustice, as if every team should have won every time. This attitude makes each loss a reason to get upset. The NFL season also ramps up the stakes as time goes on, with games being more and more important until the team is eliminated after a final loss. The Packers recently lost the chance at the Super Bowl to the Seahawks, and depression lingered in the air for a week.

Getting worked up over games isn’t just unhealthy for you; it affects the people around you as well.  If you aren’t a Packer fan, but worry about them losing games, you’re not alone. Domestic violence reports rise when teams that are expected to win, lose.  Being unhappy with a sporting event outcome is never reason to hurt someone.  Unfortunately, losing one’s temper because of a dropped ball can do just that. Even verbal aggression is enough to make me uncomfortable, especially if it’s screamed at a television, where the threats only bounce back to my ears, never reaching the players themselves.

Sports promote teamwork, respect, fairness and dependability and football requires all of these things for a decent game. When watching football, spectators seem to forget that what they are watching: A game. This is entertainment; no lives are at stake except for the players’ (whose risk of concussion sets them up for future medical disaster). All of the positive benefits of playing a sport seem dwarfed next to a fan that feels entitled to scream and rant to family members at the incredulity of fumble.

A little perspective could go a long way in calming things down. If you or someone you know gets really worked up, try and remember something else that is actually affecting your life more than the outcome of the game.  Be grateful for the people who you haven’t scared away yet. Take comfort in the fact that your fridge probably has both enough food and beer in it. Maybe throw a football around with your friends. It can be even more fun to play than watch. You can leave your baggage on the sidelines.